October Sky (1999) - Special Edition

Genre(s): Drama / Family
Universal || PG - 108 minutes - $12.98 || January 25, 2005
Reviewer: Chris Gonzalez || Posted On: 2005-01-25

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Joe Johnston
Writer(s): Homer H. Hickam Jr. (Novel "Rocket Boys"), Lewis Colick (screenplay)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, Chris Owen, William Lee Scott

Theatrical Release Date: February 19, 1999

Supplemental Material:
  • Author Commentary
  • Aiming High: The Story of the Rocket Boys
  • Spotlight on Location
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Released almost six years ago October Sky is, and will be remembered as the film that started Jake Gyllenhaalís career. He played the title role of Homer Hickam Jr., a 17 year-old high school student who dreamed of getting out of his coal mining town, and becoming a rocket scientist. The film mainly centers on him getting to that point along with his three friends and from the support of his teacher. A large portion of the movie is also made up of a father/son relationship.

The events take place in 1957, when the country was obsessed with the launch of Sputnik and the film captures the time period extremely well. At times some of the characters feel one dimensional and the acting can be over acted but Chris Cooper and Laura Dern really do come out and take the picture home. It is an inspirational story with some touching moments, even if most of them feel rushed. There is a lot of time spent on the father/son conflict, but the teacher/student relationship feels very rushed, as does an almost laughable ďromanticĒ subplot consisting of vague stares. Overall, itís not the great movie some claim it to be, but it definitely a good one and worth your time.


Before the Menu for the disc shows up there are non- anamorphic trailers for The Motorcycle Diaries, Friday Night Lights, "Miami Vice", and Ray. The Menu itself is as boring and unimaginative as they come.

All of the special features are non-anamorphic. First we get Aiming High: The Story of the Rocket Boys, a thirty minute segment which features interviews with the four characters from the film and where they are today. They talk about the real experience and how they reacted to the film. Then it takes you to the actual location of Coalwood, West Virginia and the real Homer Hickam shows you around the town. Itís an interesting segment for those who like to hear about the true story behind the film.

The next feature is a standard ten minute Spotlight on Location which features interviews with director Joe Johnson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, and Homer Hickam Jr. They talk about what the film is about and touch on the process of making it. There is behind the scenes footage material and clips thrown in as well.

The commentary track by Homer Hickam is a fantastic one for fans of the story, but doesnít give much insight into the filmmaking process, which is representative of the special features as a whole. Hickam doesnít waste a moment and gives more information about his experiences per minute than any other commentary Iíve ever heard.

Lastly they threw in a 2 minute Theatrical Trailer which is nice to have, but the trailer itself is incredibly cheesy and gives away a lot of the film.


Presented in 2.35:1 the movie looks slightly dated but by no means bad. There is a lot of grain to be found, some spots, and an overall flat feel, but on the plus side there is no edge enhancement and colors seem to be spot on. Itís not a bad transfer, but it looks as if they used the one from 1999 and didnít touch up a thing.

The audio on the other hand is pretty good, and you couldnít ask for a better range of options. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is a very good track, especially for the talky film given. The voices are heard perfectly, there are some good surround effects, like rockets flying around, and the score comes in wonderfully. The DTS is better on the whole, but not by too much. Both tracks are above average.


If youíre a fan of the film and already own the first edition, this one is worth picking up for the commentary, new special features, and the DTS track especially at such a cheap price. Itís certainly a weak double dip, but a welcome one nonetheless.